to a poet friend i helped marry, who, at the time of this writing, had two small kids named for irish heroes, a newly bald head, a fresh hysterectomy, a collapsed and recalcitrant lung, and (hundreds of us prayed) no more ovarian cancer.


april 15
dear M,

when i woke just past dawn, the house was quiet, and a late-spring snow was falling. i made coffee then strolled outside and opened up the coop. the hens filed out, clucking in their gossipy way, and the rooster rushed self-importantly forward to call them to bits of food they could have better found without him. but when i checked inside the coop, the blond banty was again hunched deep in the darkest nest box. she’s been broody for weeks, enthroned on a batch of eggs visible to no one but herself. if we pick her up and urge her outside, she remains bunched in that broody posture, making sad little mothering sounds till we place her back in her dark box. on easter morning our daughter celia couldn’t stand it: she took the hen out in the yard, set her in green grass and bright sunshine, and told her to enjoy life. the hen then hunkered for hours where celia had set her, looking as if someone had made off with her legs.